Saturday, February 13, 2010

First Ever Dinner Party

Happy early Valentine's Day/Chinese New Year, everyone! In honor of these two special holidays, the boyfriend and I decided to host our first official, true blue, not-just-booze-and-snacks, dinner party. "Firsts" are always an exciting event, and we were eager to start out strong.  Unfortunately, by the time we got around to cooking, we were running a couple hours behind schedule, so we had to really fly to get food on the table by 7 as promised.  Which means I had less time to take pictures -- after my 3rd attempt to get the perfect action shot of him buttering the chicken, Dan suggested that we maybe forgo the step-by-step photos this one time and get cracking on the actual cooking. Such a wise man.

Overall the dinner was a success -- a pain in the ass to make, yes, but a success.  Everyone ate well and drank well and left happy.  Still, Dan and I may need a few months to recover before the next party.


- Sliced Italian Bread served with herbed olive oil
- Creamed Mushrooms on Chive Butter Toast (Recipe from Smitten Kitchen)

The recipe called for brioche or good white bread, but I couldn't find any at the local grocery store so I just went with a french baguette.  I also had to substitute portobello mushrooms for cremini mushrooms, because, surprise, my store didn't have any.  Either way, this dish was a big hit with everyone, and was polished off in short order.

- Poulet Roti a la Normande (Roast Chicken Basted with Cream, Herb and Giblet Stuffing)

This was my first time roasting a chicken, so I figured a Julia Child recipe was the way to go.  This proved to be a fantastic decision, as the chicken was juicy and flavorful, the cream cheese/giblet stuffing was a revelation (none of us had ever tasted anything like it!), and the accompanying gravy was the best I've ever had.  

But I have to be honest --- I didn't actually follow Julia's instructions for roasting the chicken.  She called for a lot of flipping and turning and basting and monitoring, and I just didn't have the time to be that involved. So I used this recipe instead for the roasting instructions, but stuck with Julia for the stuffing and gravy. No one complained!

- Mashed Potatoes with Sour Cream and Chives

OK, 8 gigantic Russet potatoes may be just a tad too much for 7 people to eat.  The picture above was actually taken after everyone had eaten multiple helpings  at dinner -- we barely finished 1/2 of the potatoes, delicious though they were.  Next time I'll just stick with 4 taters and call it a day.

Super easy recipe:

(1) Boil 4 potatoes until soft. (Jab a fork into one of the potatoes and if it feels soft vs. crisp, it's done.)
(2) Peel potatoes. (Or, if you're like Dan and enjoy a little texture with your taters, keep some of the skin on.)
(3) Mash potatoes with 1/2 cup milk (use more milk if you're using more potatoes), and 1/2 cup sour cream.  If you don't have milk on hand, heavy cream works too -- it's just more fattening. Yum.
(4) Throw in a handful of chopped chives.
(5) Add salt and butter to taste.

- Creamed Spinach (Another Smitten Kitchen recipe)

Spinach is probably my favorite leafy green vegetable -- nutritious yet delicious, and so versatile.  I had my first creamed spinach experience when Dan and I went to a fancy steak joint for our 3 year anniversary, and it blew my mind.  Spinach + butter + cream looks mushy and unimpressive, but the delicious flavors just wrap around your tongue and the whole thing melts in your mouth.

One minor edit to the recipe: no nutmeg. I hate nutmeg. Except for when it's baked into cakes and I can't taste it.  So I left it out of this dish and just went about my merry way. No one missed it.

- Strawberry Cream Pie (Recipe courtesy of Crumbly Cookie)

My picture may not look as awesome as Bridget's, but the pie itself was an unqualified success.  Who can resist the siren call of strawberries, chocolate, and cheesecake filling? No one.

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